Published on March 13th, 2012 | by Justin Chen0
[Game Review] Mass Effect 3 (PC)
Summary: Mass Effect 3 is an acceptable game overall, but some poor decision making on the part of the game's developers will leave many who loved the two previous games incredibly confused. The core of Mass Effect is clearly represented in the game's combat and storytelling, but minor removals and additions will niggle away like a pesky and persistent fly buzzing around in your ear.
And so once again, we jump into the boots of Commander Shepard, the man (or woman) that created a sci-fi genre so great it captured the hearts of gamers everywhere. As such, Mass Effect 3 stands at the disadvantage of having to be invariably compared to its two predecessors. While it does its job well enough, Mass Effect 3 simply isn’t as good as the previous two games.
In order to maintain its familiarity, Mass Effect 3‘s gameplay is largely unchanged. The majority of it involves the same third person shooting seen in previous games. However, that’s not to say nothing has changed, in fact several parts of the previous games have been removed or re-added to the game for better or worse. The description I’m forced to draw with this is that Mass Effect 3 added new features whilst removing others; whether the features removed from the game were actually beneficial depends mostly on players’ personal tastes. For example, some players found the hacking minigames in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 to be frustrating annoyances and these players may be happy to find that hacking in Mass Effect 3 has been completely removed. While there are parts of the game that require Commander Shepard to “hack,” most of it involves standing still at a door way and not moving until Shepard has finished. Unfortunately, this leads to the great big inevitable question mark over the whole issue of what the point of having Shepard hack anything at all is, since there is no difference between opening a door normally and hacking it outside of the delayed response.
There have been a couple of additions as well into the core gameplay. In the new War Assets system, Shepard’s role is to rally the forces of the galaxy to take the fight to the Reapers, traveling to numerous different planets to help alien species and in return gaining their aid in the final confrontation against the powerful Reaper machine race. This system ultimately determines the ending the player will receive; a higher rating will give the player a better ending while also factoring in some renegade or paragon choices. To its credit, the system is a rather interesting idea, but it’s let down by another aspect of the system: the Galactic Readiness Rating. While a player may have accumulated a high enough rating to get a decent ending, many will strive to get the game’s best ending, which unfortunately requires players to play the multiplayer in order to bolster it. Without playing co-op multiplayer, a player can be stuck at 50% Galactic Readiness Rating, effectively making all War Assets worth half of its true value. So if you’re intent on avoid the game’s multiplayer, know that the game will ask twice as much from you in order to unlock the best ending.
While I’ve spent a great deal of time pounding on the game’s negatives it’s also worth noting the game’s positives. Many players in Mass Effect 2 felt the game’s weapon arsenal was laughably small compared to that the first game. As such, Mass Effect 3 strives for something of a middle ground with at least a half dozen or so of every type of weapon. Each one has unique effects and is gratifying to shoot (with a few exceptions based on personal taste). The game also allows customizable add-ons, allowing players to choose between more accuracy, higher damage, scopes, etc. The same goes for armor, as numerous armor pieces can be acquired throughout the games different locales or bought in shops.
Bioware has always been known for good writing and Mass Effect 3 is no exception, in fact, this particular game has perhaps some of the best writing of any Bioware game to date. The game’s story has one goal for the player: to evoke some of the strongest emotions ever felt while playing a video game. There are numerous different themes in the story, but the major theme touched upon more than any other is loss. More often than not, the game will require the player to make a choice that will adversely affect one race while benefiting another, causing the people on the receiving end to suffer the most. Even in scenes where Shepard isn’t required to make any choices at all and the emotions are all played out by NPCs, the gut wrenching choices made by them for the greater good will leave some players teary-eyed.
Before ending this review there is one thing I must get off my chest and that is the game’s ending. Without spoiling anything for anyone, I will say that the ending will be a major disappointment. It gives little to no closure and somehow ends up raising more questions than it answers, thus forcing people to follow Bioware for more games, novels, and cartoons for the possibility of getting any answer at all. Bioware may have advertised that the game comes with 16 different endings, but many of the differences between them are superficial at best and can actually be boiled down to only three. This kind of shoddy decision making by a game company with a reputation like Bioware’s will leave a bad taste as well as mixed emotions for loyal fans who want to like the game but can’t get over its terrible endings.
Mass Effect 3 is an acceptable game overall, but some poor decision making on the part of the game’s developers will leave many who loved the two previous games incredibly confused. The core of Mass Effect is clearly represented in the game’s combat and storytelling, but minor removals and additions will niggle away like a pesky and persistent fly buzzing around in your ear. Players will enjoy this installment just as they have for the last two games, but the feeling of true satisfaction will not come as it did with the previous two installments. What a disappointment it is to know that Bioware’s last Mass Effect game was to be outperformed by its predecessors and that their attempts at making the game better have all been for naught.
Available on: 360, PC, PS3; Publisher: EA; Developer: Bioware; Players: 1 – 4; Released: March 6, 2012; ESRB: Mature; MSRP: $59.99; Official Site